There was a chance to take the lead back in the third period and save the game, but after a call to Toronto, it was ruled that Keith Aucoin kicked in what would have been the Islanders fourth goal of the night. It didn’t look like a kicking motion as Aucoin put his skates sideways and came to a stop but Toronto didn’t agree.
(Sidebar: The interesting and good thing the NHL does, is that the video and reasoning was quickly posted to NHL.com. Transparency that is rare from pro leagues.)
As if you knew it was coming and had seen this show before, the Senators scored the decisive goal with a minute to go in the game to complete the comeback. Sergei Gonchar’s slapper from the point found its way through traffic and into the back of the net, completing a tough night for Evgeni Nabokov. He was immediately pulled for the extra man and could be seen shaking his head at the jumbotron overhead.
On the MSG broadcast, another refereeing controversy arose and the heat was cranked up on the zebras. On Gonchar’s goal, an Ottawa player high sticked the puck into the zone to keep it in. The play would be blown dead if a Senator touched it first, and super slow motion showed that was indeed the case despite Lubomir Visnovsky almost getting to it. The play wasn’t blown dead and led the to goal.
It was clear in slow motion on the broadcast but at full speed it was a bang-bang play that’s really a tough, split second decision. While officiating wasn’t, er, good in this game, the Islanders did have six power plays to Ottawa’s one and had a two goal lead heading into the third. It’s hard to argue that this play, specifically, cost the Islanders dearly. It hurt, but they had their chances.
At the end of the day, the team has to play these games like they’re in the playoff hunt. They say they are, but the last two third periods have left something to be desired.
The good news is that there are three more games on this homestand and one loss doesn’t sink the ship. The bad news is the Islanders just gave away one of the half-dozen or so regulation losses they could afford the rest of the way.
They now sit in tenth, three points back of each Carolina, New Jersey Toronto and the Rangers, who are all tied for sixth. The Northeast division leading Montreal Canadiens visit the Coliseum on Thursday night.